Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UFT Ex Bd May 22 Notes - CPE1 Kumbaya, on Puerto Rico Teachers - NOT

Howie Schoor Tries on CPE1 Tee
Catlin Preston—CPE 1—Thanks UFT leadership, especially Howie and Ellen Procida. He is exonerated. Was long 14 months. Was reassigned as CPE 1 fight happened. Speaks of teachers languishing in reassignment, a twilight zone with no clear path forward, no guidance. Can be dispiriting, especially when you don’t know what you’re accused of. I am proof administrative abuse takes place, and that there are real consequences.

My exoneration indicates that charges were not substantial to begin with. Extremely grateful for due process rights, for salary, pension but dignity, professionalism were assaulted. Thought about quitting. I was found not guilty. I also have feeling of wanting more from UFT, ground level support, my mind stays with those teachers, They were dedicated professionals. We shouldn’t apologize for abusive admin. We need to balance investigatory power of admin.  ....

UFT Executive Board May 22, 2017
The theme of this year's Ex Bd meeting has been the abusive principal - and Superintendent, as MORE/New Action constantly raised this issue at every meeting.

Last night, CPE1 parents and teachers came bearing gifts (tees) and thanks to the UFT for helping them get rid of a principal and their teachers back. I know, I know --- I should be joining in this kumbaya moment.

I do believe Mulgrew got involved -- how could he not? And yes I will give him credit for doing so. He did get an extra large tee and I hope to see him wearing it one day.

I, as usual, am skeptical on exactly what moved the DOE - the parent pressure on de Blasio, the sit-ins, the boycotts, the petitions, the going to the PEP for 14 straight meetings, the banners, the signs, the relentless pressure -- and yes the pressure on the UFT by showing up at Ex Bd meeting after meeting - and yes, also the support MORE gave from day one.

Now we hear some officials in the UFT had warned some parents and teachers to stay away from MORE -- that they were using them in their own interests -- but that didn't stop them from tapping into whatever support we could give them -- and believe me I am not giving MORE credit for doing anything but provide support and advice -- we have no power to move much --- but we, through our elected reps on the board, do have power to pressure the UFT/Unity leadership. And so we did and continue to do on the abusive principal issue, which we have from the first EB meeting of the year in September when we used the 10 minute pre-meeting speaking time to do just that, followed by our reps asking question after question.

I have two issues to raise: The reso on Puerto Rico which I will do in a separate blog and the comments last night by Catlin Preston who was totally exonerated after 14 months in the rubber room and a 3020a trial and is being returned to the school and classroom today.

I tried to take notes on Catlin's wonderful statement but am inept at doing so and will use Arthur's notes instead which I posted above.
Catlin got to the heart of the complaints about the UFT -- the attitude that as long as you are getting paid it is not a problem with them even if OSI is crooked and DOE Legal are criminals, as proven in his case. The UFT must take a more proactive role from day one -- all too often they begin with assuming the teacher is guilty - and they are so afraid to be too proactive in case the teacher is guilty. There has to be more support for people through the process, not just when the hearings start. The hands off policy must end and in fact the UFT must issue warnings as to what to look for when a new principal arrives who has the leadership academy agenda of mayhem and "creative" destruction.

For now, groups like MORE are trying to fill in when the union leadership is absent, almost an impossible task -- Catlin came to some of our colleagues for assistance in terms of psychological support, something we can do.

You can read full reports on the meeting from Arthur and James, who was getting reports from Schirtzer.

UFT Executive Board May 22, 2017--Good News at CPE 1 y Problemas en Puerto Rico -  

EXEC BD NEWS ON ATRS AND HIGH SCHOOL OF APPLIED COMMUNICATIONS

Monday, May 22, 2017

NYC Community Education Council, CEC 2 Conversations on Integrating Our Schools May 9, 2017

Creating Diverse Learning Environments to Benefit All Our Students

I taped the 2nd annual CEC2 integrating the schools event led by Shino Tanikawa. I posted about similar efforts in District 1- Controlled Choice: Community Education Council (CEC) District 1. Is there disappointment in the de Blasio/Farina admin? Hell yes.

Shino put together a great panel:
9th Grader Sen Oglesby - Shino's daughter who told of her experiences in diverse classrooms - not only based on race but on factors related to academic performance - the pros and the cons.
Prof Amy Stuart Wells of Teachers College at Columbia whose research points to the benefits all children receive from integration.
NYC Principal Kelly McGuire of Lower Manhattan Community School.
MS Social Studies Teacher Lindsay Oakes who was Sen's middle school teacher.

Now we know this is district 2 -- the highest performing district with probably the wealthiest parent body in the city -- and with many high-powered achievement -meaning test scores - and competitive -- and Shino's slides show about one third Asian and over one third white. Actually, the ideal balance for creating diverse schools - except that these are not distributed equally.

There's a lot of meat in this video as a basis for further debate -- which is Shino's intention. Definitely worth checking out if you have time.

https://vimeo.com/217590199










Sunday, May 21, 2017

Controlled Choice: Community Education Council (CEC) District 1

In pre-Bloomberg/Klein years, the k-8 lower east side schools run by the old local school board, had a very progressive record of trying to balance the schools. BloomKlein killed that with their support of free-market "choice" and the influx of charters. The much less powerful Community Education Council (CEC) that replaced the local boards in District 1, often under the leadership of Lisa Donlan, fought to the best of its ability but the powers aligned against them by mayoral control were immense.

There was some hope of change under DeB/ Farina but as the recent posting from CEC1 indicates there is much to be done.

Later I'll post the video from a similar movement in CEC 2 (the rest of Manhattan below 59th on west side and below 96th on east side).


Community
Education Council
For District One

Advocacy for students and families in CSD1.
What We Want to See in D1

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What We Talked About at the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) Meeting Yesterday

Some people may be asking what exactly is the status of ICE - the caucus not the anti-immigrant feds -- at this point. It is not a caucus in the sense of running in UFT elections. There are no real rules in ICE in terms of taking action. ICE is out there mostly as the  ICEUFT Blog run by James Eterno.

Almost every ICE person is part of MORE, of which ICE was a founding organization. ICE was also the founder of GEM which morphed into MORE, so I'm pretty proud of the history of ICE. As poitned out at yesterday's ICE gathering, we were the most social justicy group when we were founded in late 2003 and proud of it.

Today, ICE doesn't really do much of anything but blog -- 3  blogs read by many in the UFT are from ICEers -- James, Arthur Goldstein and myself.

We also talk - endlessly about anything - and freely. Every so often there is a feeling that we have things to talk about and so we put out an open invitation to join us at a diner where everyone gets to hash out issues of concern, something that doesn't happen at MORE meetings, which often get divided into smaller discussion groups, something that most ICEers are not comfortable with.  Since our numbers are small we can do that more easily than MORE.

ICE met yesterday, the day before MORE is holding a meeting/conference today regarding its Save the Union Campaign,
CUNY Graduate Center (5th and 34th) Room 5414 (Bring ID) Date: Saturday, May 20 Time: 3:30 to 6:00, with socializing to follow.
 
MORE's position is to get teachers in the school to sign pledge cards saying they will remain in the UFT.
 
The major subject on the agenda was a discussion about the position MORE seems to be taking -- that after a negative decision on agency shops, we urge everyone to pay dues and stay in the union. There was some push back among ICEers, me included, on this issue - a feeling that alternative views were not given sufficient airing within MORE -- or people were not just paying attention. I did raise alternatives at one MORE meeting -- which as usual had broken into smaller groups - so my points were heard and I guess they passed into the ether.

So what are the alternatives to telling people to stay in the UFT, an undemocratic and  locked hierarchy that offers little prospect for change? There are alternatives, like forming an organization to ask people who won't pay dues to instead put the money in an escrow account to be used to organize and possibly recruit another bargaining agent - not something I support at this time but certainly an idea that should be vetted.

Other ideas have been to separate the high school teachers -- which vote opposition -- from the rest of the union into a separate bargaining agent -- there might be legal ways to accomplish that -- by getting a certain % of high school teachers to call for a bargaining election. After all, it was pointed out that James Eterno is the de facto HS VP since he got the most HS votes, but due to Unity's changing the constitution in 1994 to make the divisional VP at-large - where elementary teachers and retirees vote.

I'm not for that either at this point.

But I'm also not for giving Unity unqualified support without conditions. Imagine going around your school asking people to sign the pledge to stay. "Why are you in an opposition group and what do you oppose," someone might ask? "Well, they don't really offer a defense of the members, etc, etc, etc" - and your prospective signee says - "And you want me to keep paying dues to that?" and you have to say the truth -- it is still better than no union. But of course they can counter -- the union will still be there in some form.

Well, all of this was on the table, in addition to lots of food, as 8 of us met for I think about 4 hours.

We also talked about the issues below and about MORE in general and how some issues don't get aired - the sense that one can't be critical about things that don't work without being charged with being negative - which I have been charged with -- so I basically don't bother -- a form of subtle suppression of sorts which in an organization that is critical of the UFT leadership on democracy, is ironic. (Some feel that at times MORE feels like a manipulated democracy.)

We talked about the things we don't talk about in MORE. What is not working and what can be done about it. What is working and why -- right now the great work being done by the Ex Bd people in pushing the UFT/Unity to do more.

We didn't get to everything on the agenda below -- and I never did get my rice pudding -- I only had a 3-course meal.
Janus and the UFT. Are there alternatives to urging people to stay in the union?
Dissecting the Central park east story in depth -- what do we learn and can it be applied to other schools or is this an outlier?
Chicago and social justice unionism -- we see a dearth of info on Chicago after years of "lessons we can learn". Are the CTU and CORE morphing into the UFT and Unity? Tales of democracy and not democracy -- is the SJ model people are using failing or are there other considerations?
LA confidential -- the loss to charters in school board elections -- is that a good model as an alt to mayoral control? Union leadership in LA -- Alex' grand plan and was it disrupted by the election?

Friday, May 19, 2017

MORE, Featuring Marilyn Martinez, Meets Saturday, ICE, Featuring Rice Pudding, Meets Friday

Just heading out of Rockaway to attend the 4PM ICE meeting at the diner where I can gobble some rice pudding -- well it is hot out and what a way to cool off than at an ICE meeting. If anything worth reporting I will do so tonight or tomorrow. Not sure if I can make it back to city for MORE meeting as I have a lot of yard/gardening work to do but with Marilyn Martinez there it should be quite an event.

The CPE people are having a celebration with Catlin Prestin at 5 this afternoon uptown -

An open agenda at the ICE meeting - some topics so far:
Ed Notes/ICE summer series -- possibly study group, discussions, etc.
Janus and the UFT. Are there alternatives to urging people to stay in the union?
Dissecting the Central park east story in depth -- what do we learn and can it be applied to other schools or is this an outlier?
Chicago and social justice unionism -- we see a dearth of info on Chicago after years of "lessons we can learn". Are the CTU and CORE morphing into the UFT and Unity? Tales of democracy and not democracy -- is the SJ model people are using failing or are there other considerations?
LA confidential -- the loss to charters in school board elections -- is that a good model as an alt to mayoral control? Union leadership in LA -- Alex' grand plan and was it disrupted by the election?

TheMORE meeting/conference on Saturday

Victory at CPE1! Hear exonerated Chapter Leader at MORE forum this weekend…

May 17, 2017 — 1 Comment

Abusive administrator Monika Garg has been removed as Principal of progressive Harlem elementary school CPE1 and UFT Chapter Leader Marylin Martinez and Delegate Caitlin Preston have both been fully exonerated of the retaliatory charges that Garg initiated to remove them to the school!
This victory is the product of an eighteen-month struggle led by parents who occupied the school, took their children out of school in a family strike, and hounded Mayor DiBlasio at events. CPE1 teachers, supported by MORE representatives, repeatedly pressed the leadership at the UFT executive board for action.

Read coverage in on the blog of MORE Executive Board representative Arthur Goldstein, the New York Times, and EducationNotes Online.

Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez will be speaking at MORE’s forum this Saturday at 3:30 PM – See details below… Please print this flyer to distribute to your staff today!

The Demise of Unions?
A bottom-up vision for reviving the labor movement
Location: CUNY Graduate Center (5th and 34th) Room 5414 (Bring ID)
Date: Saturday, May 20
Time: 3:30 to 6:00, with socializing to follow.
President Trump, Congress, and the US Supreme Court are prepared to continue and escalate the attacks on the American labor movement, and national “right-to-work” laws will severely weaken public sector unions.
How can workers organize in this environment, which is a result not just of recent events, but also of decades of anti-labor policy in the United States? How can public sector workers defend their unions from outside threats, but also hold them accountable and force them to stand up to Trump?
Join MORE (the Movement of Rank & File Educators) at our forum on the future of public sector unionism; hear grassroots organizers from groups across the city share stories of their organizing work and their thoughts on how to prepare for the challenges of the future.
SPEAKERS*:
 
Mary Fitzgerald, RN: Montefiore Hospital, NYSNA organizer
[Mary Fitzgerald is head of the bargaining unit at Montefiore Hospital for the New York State Nurses Association. She helped to organize the dissociation of NYSNA from the American Nurses Association and has been instrumental in advocating for safe staffing in New York hospitals.]
Marilyn Martinez: UFT Chapter Leader at Central Park East 1
[As the United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader at CPE 1, Marilyn Martinez has worked with families and other teachers to protect the school’s tradition of progressive education. A veteran kindergarten/first-grade teacher, she has been a leader in the school community in the fight against abusive administration.]
*Speakers’ affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Family History of White Flight From East New York in the 60s

My neck of the woods in East NY - bottom right - Gershwin athletic field - upper left was the old Straus JHS 109.
The NY Times had an op ed by Leah Boustan on Monday -

The Culprits Behind White Flight - The New York Times

Boustan talked about how whites began fleeing the cities for the suburbs as black began migrating up north in massive numbers from 1940-1970 and how it was a combination of racism and economic anxiety -  my parents and most of their neigborhoods were guilty of both.

What Boustan doesn't get into much was the white flight from changing neighborhoods to other city neighborhoods - ours and many others from East NY to Canarsie. What is funny is that ENY may be the only as yet ungentrified area in Brooklyn - if you happen to be looking for property, move fast. Maybe you can buy my old house.

My entire East New York neighborhood left en masse in the 1960s - some to the suburbs, but many for other neighborhoods like Canarsie which is about a mile or two away.

East NY had been a well-known mob area - Murder Inc - in the 30s and 40s and beyond. The Scorsese film Goodfellows is an ENY story. So it was not considered a tony place at any time.

We lived in a 2 family house at 551 Alabama Avenue between Riverdale Ave. and New Lots Ave. about two blocks from the
Current view - on the left - 551 Alabama Ave - the house I lived in from 2-20 years old - the gate wasn't there when we lived there.
Pennsylvania Ave. stop on the New Lots line (I could hear the trains run all night). In this current Google View, the houses on the block are still pretty much intact and looking good - even better - that they were when I was growing up.

The big store in the area was Fortunoff's which opened about 10 different stores on Livonia Ave, a dim and dingy street under the elevated line. My friend's dad was once Fortunoff's only employee in his first small store and when old Max offered him a partnership, he decided to go to work in the post office instead for a safe salary.

The L train also ran through the neighborhood from Canarsie through Bushwick/Williansburg. You couldn't transfer from the L to the 3 - though there has been some talk of making that happen.

My aunt bought the house in the 20s or 30s and when she moved to Florida around 1957 she sold it to my parents and my other aunt who didn't live there for about 8 grand. It was an amazing brick house -- 2 family - 7 rooms over 6 with the only private driveway on the block. The block had 3 doctors living on it with their offices. There were apartment buildings on the corners.

Throughout the post WWII period until the early 1960, our house was grand central for refugees - many holocaust survivors - coming over from Europe and then after 1959, others coming from Cuba. Like I'd come home from school and find a bunch of strangers speaking a foreign language staying in our house - some stayed for a year. Lontsmen and women from all over Brooklyn would just drop in any time. At times it seemed my mom was running a hotel.

One day in 1960 when I was 15, I came home from school to find my hot 17-year old cousin from Florida who had run away from home -- she stayed for 6 months and we had to beat all the older guys off as they came swarming around. At Jefferson, guys who never spoke to the nerdish me, started talking to me and asking me about my "cuz."

Believe me, this is just one story. I've written short story fiction about some of the goings on in that house, especially in the finished basement which my parents rented out at times including to a guy who was using the place to meet up with a girlfriend who was a nurse - with me laying on the floor above them with a glass pressed to the floor trying to hear what was going on -- it didn't work. Years later my friend told me how he used to make out with a young lady from the midwest who lived there for 6 months while I was studying for finals upstairs - I retroactively hoped he failed the exam.

My elementary school was a block and a half from my house - PS 190 on Sheffield Ave - which I attended from 1950-1956 - was mostly Jewish. I remember the one Catholic girl in my 6th grade class - Betty White - in our class and there was one kid of color named Pedro Polonaise. I heard that some of the people in that class recently attended a Jefferson HS reunion in Florida.

Our locally zoned JHS was fairly good walk away - Straus JHS 109, an  old building on Dumont Avenue - we had to cross over an overpass over the L train - and as the neighborhood around the school had been changing from white to black in the 50s - was considered a black/white dividing line and there was some friction as the school began to turn. Parents were getting nervous about sending us there. Then we heard, as we were getting ready to graduate, the school was going to be closed down due to age and the entire school would be moved to a brand new state of the art JHS - George Gershwin - 166 - on Linden Blvd and Van Sicklen -- entirely in the opposite direction and also a good half mile away.

But in September 1956, Gershwin wasn't finished yet and ready to open -- we were told it would be another month - and thus we began the school year at 109 -- that first day we crossed that bridge nervous as hell. There was a tradition of hazing new students and  we were lined up in the school yard by older students -- and they all seemed to be black. Parents went wild as stories floated back and after 2 days the entire rookie 7th grade was pulled and sent to the unfinished Gershwin where the roof was still not completed - Imagine that response from the Board of Education - they had to pull a whole bunch of teachers from 109 and sent them along with us to the new school -- the rest of 109 followed a month later.

The new neighborhood was deeper into East NY -- not far from Howard Beach - was entirely different --- brand new housing was going up in what was a fairly empty area and it was mostly populated by whites. There were 16 classes on a grade and they were pretty segregated - not only white and black -- but even though we were mostly what would be considered working class - the oft more studious Jewish kids often in the top classes and working class non-Jewish kids whites in the lower level classes - and black and Spanish kids in even lower level classes.

From Gershwin, unless we got into Tech or Stuy, we went to the local high school from 1959-1962 - Thomas Jefferson - where the white kids from Canarsie, which didn't have a high school, were bused in. So were kids from a wide area including Brownsville and points north and west -- Wingate hadn't opened yet. Jeff was a real melting pot but again we were segregated into honors classes which were almost all white and very Jewish - again, the white working class kids were mostly not included.

My block even as late as the early 60s was all white and mostly Jewish. The PS 190 school yard was a major hangout after school and on weekends. Then suddenly the yard became deserted as gang activity increased - white gangs - as more poor whites began to move into the neighborhood.

Then came the day that a black family bought a house on our block and people panicked -- aided by the block buster real estate agents who besieged us. What is interesting was that this family seemed to be more middle class than everyone else on the block - and they ended up moving before we did.

Then the muggings began. The corner grocery store owner was beaten. The drug store was robbed until Mr. Chesler gave up and left. Mendel's candy store and soda fountain was soon gone.
My parents began to think of selling - I think my friend's dad was mugged coming from the subway. And they got a good price in 1965 -- $20 grand - from a black couple - he had been in the army I believe. A good friend of mine still lived on the block for a few years until they were a minority.

I was in my junior year at Brooklyn College and we rented an apartment on East 82 St in what was known as new Canarsie, while old Canarsie further south and east had historically been Italian.

In 1971, shortly after I moved out in prep for getting married, my parents bought a co-op in Lindenwood, a subsection of Howard Beach, where they lived for most of the rest of their lives. Lindenwood is just over the border from East NY -- you can walk to the Lindenwood Diner on Linden Blvd which is still around and seemingly doing very well.

The irony now is that most of Canarsie is black - many of West Indian decent. And most white abandoned that neighborhood a decade or two later.

What happened to the blocks around my house? I would drive around and it looked like a war zone. Rubble on all the apartment houses. Fortunoff's, which had employed so many people, bailed out and left Livonia Ave looking like Dresden.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

JUSTICE: a second teacher, Catlin Preston, finally fully exonerated after Principal Garg's spurious charges

JUSTICE: a second teacher, Catlin Preston, finally fully exonerated after Principal Garg's spurious charges. He has spent more than a year in the rubber room. Do I need to remind anyone of the rarity of a decision like this? The chance of both teachers being cleared was 0.16%!!!... Anika Baxter Tam
Not much to say on my part --- Catlin has been in the rubber room for almost a year and a half. At this Saturday's MORE event Marilyn is scheduled to speak. If Catlin comes too, that will be one big celebration. Sorry I have other commitments that day but I look forward to reports. Let's see if there are press reports that are accurate. 

Here's another parent post:
On Jan 31st [2016] vet tenured staff at #cpe1 wrote an open letter to our community about the inability of the current principal had in engaging in conversation about the progressive practices of our school. This shook the community as decisions were being made counter to the democratic, child centered practices that have given the school international acknowledgment. Now, 16 months later, two of these teachers being removed, a petition signed by 3K people, parent ban letters, media, complaints filed. Now we can say -- (1) both our teachers had their charges dismissed, (2) the principal was removed and (3) we get to rebuild! May the CPE1 legacy live on! #thisiswhatdemocracylookslike #parentvoice #teachervoice #savecpe1 #parentsingargout #standupforpublicschools #bringbackourteacher #saveprogressiveeducation

The Outrage of CPE1

Maybe it's because I have an endoscopy and colonoscopy in a few hours --- so excuuuse me for this rant.

I know this is becoming the CPE1 blog -- and I imagine some of you want to hear other news -- but I also try to link what is going on there to the larger complexities -- like I haven't even tackled the race, segregation and diversity issues surrounding the CPE1 situation. I have learned so much from my contact with so many CPE1 parents and teachers - but most of my conversations have been with the parents, as diverse a group of parents that exists in this system -- a model for any school and community despite the attacks by the DOE and Garg supporters that the school was exclusionary. I also haven't delved into the issue that the DOE wanted to change CPE1 to make it more competitive with Eva-like charters in District 4 which are attractive to parents who are nervous about the freedom children get in a progressive school. (Read some press reports the last 2 days to see the underlying attacks on the CPE1 people buried in the reports -- I don't have all the links to the WSJ, New York Times, New York Daily News, DNAinfo-- I'm too weak from hunger to look for them -- so leave a comment with any links you find.)

While the CPE1 community celebrates the victories - and there may be more breaking good news later in the day - I still have feelings
of outrage.

Outrage at the Farina admin at the DOE for basically leaving so much of the BloomKlein era intact where teachers can be brought up on firing charges for the equivalent of having a hang nail while principals go free for committing educational murder. In fact I was going to go to the PEP meeting tonight to spend 2 minutes yelling at Farina and the PEP members for allowing this situation to go on for so long - and for allowing people like Garg - and Jahoda - to run schools. And for dissing Debbie Meier's vision. Rumor was that she left in tears after a meeting with Farina. (My belief has been that Farina was jealous of the Debbie notoriety as an educator).

Outrage at the CSA for supporting monsters. CSA Calls Abusive Principal Garg "an outstanding educator.   and list others the DOE should have supported - John Dewey High School. DeWitt Clinton High School. Townsend Harris High School.
We need a rogues gallery for CSA superstars.

Outrage at the UFT, which actually got involved after we encouraged  dozens of parents and teachers to come to EB meetings - not as  much as we wished -- but we'll take the outcome -- they will surely claim full credit for the outcome, but only became woke when parents and teachers worked with MORE/New Action to put the issue right in front of their faces --- after over a year and a half of inaction.

Arthur points out in his excellent report today - CPE 1 Victory Is Model for Us All --
...we from MORE/ New Action spent hours meeting with the CPE 1 community and tried to address their concerns. We were part of it. Unity was part of it too, but they were also the part that applauded someone who trash-talked the activist parents and teachers at last week's Executive Board.
Yes, just 10 days ago, many people on the UFT Ex Bd applauded when a first year untenured teacher (also a parent at the school) appeared with two other teachers to support Monika Garg and say what a wonderful principal she was and while at it to attack the veteran teachers who said they would only meet with them off campus because their chapter leader, Marilyn Martinez, was in the rubber room awaiting the outcome of her hearing. (I wonder how these people are feeling today.)

They were joined at the meeting by 4 parent Garg supporters -- the ringleader was pointed out to me, but given what will surely be attempts on the part of our allies to bring peace to the school and mend rifts (if the other side won there would have been a bloodbath), I will refrain from going after her --- but will point out that one parent said to me incredulously -- "but her child was in Marilyn's class last year -- how can she support these attacks?" Yet there she was, seemingly to help orchestrate an attempt to muddy the waters at the UFT - everyone knows they will go both ways - and my thought was did the district rep tell them to come because she detected the leadership moving in the right direction?

And then I saw it -- UFT District 4 Rep Sevia Silva cuddled with them in the hall with smiles and backslaps. Applause and backslaps from Unity Caucus for people -- well while they were talking CPE1 parents were texting me using the word "Scabs." Note that not all teachers hired by Garg supported them. A few weeks ago when the large anti-Garg crew showed up one of the Garg hires was with them, and the CPE1 people were so proud of her not only for supporting them but to them most importantly, how much she has learned as a teacher.

The first meeting Peter Lamphere and I had with a large group of teachers c. Feb 2016 was off campus. (Let me point out that Peter has not only played a role in the CPE1 situation but also fired the first shot when Rosemarie Jahoda was installed as principal of Townsend Harris HS - a shot cited by the teachers at the school when they came to praise the UFT for helping them --they said they found anti-Jahoda pieces online but never mentioned Peter by name - I reposted this on Aug. 29, 2016 -- Peter Lamphere on Rosemarie Jahoda: What Does It Take To Get Promoted to Principal in NYC?)

They CPE1 teachers seemed shell-shocked. They had no idea of the blueprint Garg was following but  it was so familiar to us since we had heard this story time and again from other schools. I remember asking questions - like -- "and I assume the local UFT doesn't really support you and in fact often looks like they are supporting the principal and District Supt" -- nods all around. We told them about the PEP meetings where they could confront Farina in person every month and they send a group of people to the next one and every meeting until tonight when they won't be going. I remember that after that first PEP meeting Jia and I ran into some of them outside and we all went out to eat at a restaurant in Chinatown.

They were mistrustful of Garg from Day 1 in July 2015 but wanted to give her a chance and she was not quite vicious - until she was appointed after a rushed C30 process around December 2015 after which she escalated the assaults. BEWARE THE RUSHED C30 PROCESS -- THE UFT MUST GET CONTROL OF THIS AND GIVE TEACHERS A BIGGER VOICE.
 
The Garg post-appointment escalation caused a reaction from the vet teachers. Garg went through each of their files and found something in the past to trigger an investigation of all of them. (How dare the Garg supporters claim these investigations -- all of which have come to nothing -- were legit?)

One of the leaders of the teachers was the school delegate -- Catlin Prestin. He helped circulate a petition in Jan. 2016. His name was on top and on the email as the circulator. Garg immediately attacked the 9 year teacher so beloved by the parents with letter after letter in his file, soon to be followed by charges of corporal punishment, his removal from the school around February, and his being brought up on 3020a charges - his hearing was not until this school year and has lingered with a decision expected any minute. When I found out from the parent of the child who was involved with the charges what really went on with Garg's lies and manipulation of an incident where the teacher had been trying to comfort the child my response was that Garg should be fired if not arrested.

(Parents while celebrating Marilyn's return have not given up trying to get Catlin back to the school. Contrast the two cases by the way - Marilyn charged and removed in Feb, 3020a "emergency" hearing in March, decision in May.)

It was Catlin's removal that led to people contacting Peter for a meeting with some MOREs - why? Because Silva and the Manhattan UFT borough office were so unresponsive -- after all - the UFT knew this blueprint and due to what I assume is more loyalty to its relationships to the CSA and DOE Officials, take a basic hands off approach. The don't view themselves as our reps but as a neutral negotiating party.

With MORE/NA elected Ex Bd members joining with CPE1 parents at the EB meetings to pressure the union into action. I remember bringing it up in my 2 minutes and Howie Schoor acting surprised -- and I made the point that this was a failure of the UFT at the root level where so many people say that

Hey, in this case it worked but in the hundreds of others because there is no group of parent activists like at CPE1 -- and at Townsend Harris too where students and parents got active -- well people are often left to drown.

I'll close with this point from Arthur's blog today:
..primary credit should go to the CPE 1 community. I spent a lot of time listening to one of the parents in particular, and I rarely see the sort of passion and dedication that came from both them and the activist teachers combined with the activism it took to sustain this. The parents and  teachers who undertook this are fantastic role models. Many of us are understandably disheartened and disillusioned, and unwilling to take a stand. Perhaps it's natural that many of us need a crisis like this to bring us to our feet....
Common sense didn't work. Looking at the situation objectively didn't work. Relentless pressure and news coverage seems to be what finally took the Arg out of Garg. And that, my friends, is exactly what we need to practice more of. I'm ready. Are you?  
So I expect to be in a better mood after I eat something late this afternoon and hope I can report some more good news coming out of CPE1 ---

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CPE1 Update: GONE GARG!!!!

A year and a half of struggle ended today with the announcement that CPE1 principal Monika Garg "has decided to accept another position with the DOE." The exoneration of Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez was a repudiation of Garg's tactics and was the final straw even for the DOE. If even a fraction of Garg's crimes had been committed by a teacher imagine the outcome.

Garg did not show up at the school on Monday where the parents held an 8AM celebration for Marilyn's return. How could Garg face Marilyn who she had put in the gulag for months which denied the youngest children in the school their beloved teacher?

Here is the letter from Acting Supt Dolores Esposito:
Dear CPE 1 Community,

Since arriving at CPE 1 yesterday, I have met with members of the school community including students, school staff and families.

I want to share an important update. Principal Garg has chosen to take a new position in the Department of Education and will not continue as the Principal of CPE1. This is effective immediately. During her tenure at CPE 1, she has focused on serving the needs of the whole child while providing a high quality education.

During the transition, I will continue to serve as Acting Superintendent in charge of CPE 1. Together we will focus on identifying the next leader for this school in accordance with Chancellor's Regulations. My primary focus continues to be delivering a high quality education for all students in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment. With nearly 30 years as an educator and as a former graduate and adjunct professor of Bank Street College, I will use my experience in progressive education to support the school.

I look forward to working together with everyone at CPE1 to advance equity of opportunity and excellence for all students.

Best,

Dolores
And another false equivalency article by Kate Taylor in the NY Times who has the nerve to quote the tiny minority of parents who supported Garg "They said the investigations of teachers were justified and were not pursued out of animus." Really? When the hearing officer made it clear animus was on the table. Now the bullshit Garg made up about Catlin Preston, the school delegate, must continue to be fought. What did Garg do? Turn Catlin's comforting of a child into a sordid attack in an attempt to manipulate the parent who told me that Garg broke into tears telling her Catlin, who was one of the leaders of the teacher resistance, had to go. The parent when she found out the truth testified at Catlin's hearing. For that act alone, Garg should be fired.

The other charge the few Garg supporters made was that the school was exclusionary -- Garg had pulled the race card and some black parents fell into that trap. The school had always tried to be an integrated school -- roughly 1/3 black, white and Hispanic -- but at times that balance shifted and attempts were always made to redress that balance. Garg and Farina and the DOE used that to foment racial divisions. But a significant number of black parents - the majority - supported the anti-Garg savecpe1 coalition.

East Harlem Elementary Principal Is Out After a Yearlong Fight

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/nyregion/harlem-principal-is-out-after-a-yearlong-civil-war-at-an-elementary-school.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0&referer=https://t.co/7SYs1dy1i
After a yearlong civil war inside Central Park East I, a progressive elementary school in East Harlem, the school’s embattled principal has stepped aside, New York City’s Education Department said on Monday, handing a victory to parents who had accused her of seeking to dismantle the school’s traditions.
The principal, Monika Garg, will retain her title and salary as a principal but will no longer have a school to run. The department said the change was effective immediately.
That was a sudden about-face from Friday, when the Education Department announced that it was giving Ms. Garg a new supervisor but said that she would remain the principal.

The conflict has consumed the school since last year, dividing the parents and the staff. What the groups are fighting over has at times been hard to discern amid the volleys of accusations and counteraccusations. The parents and teachers who opposed Ms. Garg said she was trying to squelch the school’s progressive spirit by bringing it in line with department rules. They also accused her of instigating investigations against teachers who defied her.

Parents who supported Ms. Garg, on the other hand, said that the school, which was originally intended to provide a rich, arts-filled education to the children of East Harlem, had over the years become exclusionary and that its traditions had calcified. They said the investigations of teachers were justified and were not pursued out of animus.

For months, the city’s schools chancellor, Carmen FariƱa, had resisted calls to remove Ms. Garg. Things seemed to change in recent weeks, when a group of parents occupied the school overnight and then began following Mayor Bill de Blasio around the city. Even so, when the mayor was asked about the situation at an unrelated news conference on Thursday, he did not give any hint that he was pushing the chancellor one way or the other on the issue, saying that parents and teachers were divided and that the loudest group did not have “a monopoly on the truth.”
 
Afterward, the Education Department had seemed to waver about what to do. On Friday came the announcement that a supervisor had been placed over Ms. Garg at the school. Then, on Monday, Ms. Garg did not return to the school. In a brief interview there in the early afternoon, her new supervisor, Dolores Esposito, said she could not say why Ms. Garg was not there or whether she would continue as principal.

“We can’t answer that,” she said as she hurried away from a reporter.

The Education Department did not immediately name an interim leader but said Ms. Esposito would continue to oversee the school.
Central Park East I was founded in 1974 by Deborah Meier, a leader in the small schools movement, who started several other schools and won a MacArthur fellowship, known as a “genius grant,” in 1987.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

CPE1 Update: Biased NY Times Reporting, Marilyn Back in Class Monday, Mulgrew Gets Some Creds, New Supervisor for Garg - it is not enough

You might be asking why the constant reporting on CPE1? Because the story contains the essence of so much that is going on in the NYC DOE and the UFT.
  • Abuse by principals and superintendents and Farina at the top in targeting schools and senior teachers.
  • They follow a  blueprint that the UFT doesn't share with its members.
  • Teachers and parents at first accept the principal who lies and manipulates -- it takes them months since they had never seen anything like that before. 
  • UFT ignores situation for over a year with teachers charging the Dist Rep with showing favoritism toward the principal and the Supt over them.
  • In desperation, teachers contact MORE despite being warned by UFT that MORE is only interested in using them. Or any other lies they can make up.
  • UFT says it is working behind the scenes but will not call publicly for Garg's removal nor use its PR machinery to promote the story.
Here is where we diverge from the typical story.
  • Parents take charge -- not a small group -- like the Garg supporters -- but a massive outpouring. We suggest they go to the PEP meetings when we met with them in Feb. 2016. They weren't even clear what PEP meetings were but they learned fast and have attended every one since March 2016. They even begin going to the Delegate Assembly to pass out leaflets.
    MORE/NA elect 7 HS Ex Bd reps who begin bringing them to Ex Bd meetings soon after Marilyn - the CL - removed in February-- the impact hits union leaders right in the face.
  • We expect the hearing officer to split the baby and fine Marilyn, thus preventing her return to the school. But she wins outright.
  • The return of Marilyn Martinez to the classroom this Monday and the appointment by Farina of a Superintendent who may not have the same buddy buddy relationship that existed between the current Dist 4 Supt Alexandra Estrella and Monika Garg.
Later today the parents are throwing a party for Marilyn at a restaurant in East Harlem to celebrate but the struggle against Garg will continue because she had broken trust with everyone.

Fact is both Estrella and Garg have committed acts of a vendetta that should get them both fired. But we know supervisors will never go away -- like Townsend Harris' Rosemary Jahoda is sitting somewhere waiting for a new assignment -- and there are rumors she was offered some principalships which is like putting Willie Sutton in charge of running a bank.

Mulgrew - you can say we all put enough pressure on him -- did play a role behind the scenes in demanding Marilyn Martinez be returned to the classroom -- but that is her legal right - and any teacher winning a 3020a should be returned -- it shouldn't take a massive parent protest, sit-ins and boycotts.

That the issue was about Marilyn supposedly giving a parent advice on getting into the school was the cause of the youngest children losing their teacher for 2 months and 3020a firing charge- with Garg luring in a parent and taping her - while telling parents she had no role in the removal of Marilyn - should cause her instant dismissal and charges filed against her. She did the same with the other teacher who has been out of there for 15 months - using a more serious charge of corporal punishment -- also made up - the parent of the child testified for the teacher. I think the teachers have grounds for a personal law suit against Garg and Estrella and possibly Farina.

This is where the UFT is failing -- failing to call public attention to these outrages.

The NY Times' Kate Taylor has another poorly reported and biased story today:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/nyregion/after-protests-harlem-elementary-school-principal-gets-new-supervisor.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

Examine these 2 paragraphs:
For more than a year, a group of parents [massive group of parents representing the majority] at the school has been demanding the removal of the principal, Monika Garg, who started in 2015. The parents seeking her removal have accused her of watering down the school’s progressive approach and instigating investigations that led to the temporary removal of two teachers. [Does she know that these removals are often not temporary?]

Another group of parents, and some of the school’s teachers, [a giant wtf - a small group of parents and a few teachers] support Ms. Garg, saying that she has tried to bring order to a school that long flouted department rules. They say that there were inequities in admissions and that some students were underperforming.
Note how Taylor gives the pro-Garg talking points but not the major talking points against Garg -- like a mile long.

Now let's look at this:
The department had sought to remove Ms. Martinez, citing accusations that she had attempted to assist a parent in violating the schools admissions policies, according to a person familiar with the charges.
But an arbitrator found the accusations unsubstantiated and dismissed the charges.
Does Taylor know about the impact of 3020a charges to dismiss instead of putting a letter in her file? Does she even question the idea of the cost to the DOE for trying to get Marilyn fired for "attempt[ing} to assist a parent in violating the schools admissions policies"? Another giant WTF.
The case against the other teacher, Catlin Preston, is still pending. The department is seeking to remove him on charges that he meted out corporal punishment.
Now this -- essentially slandering Catlin by mentioning corporal punishment - but not reporting that the parent was lied to and in fact testified for Catlin. The parent has made public statements and I believe has told Taylor the story. This is not only bad reporting but dishonest, biased reporting.

What about the UFT role?
And then there's the role the district rep, Servia Silva played favoring Garg and Estrella, something we witnessed in person when she gave the pro-Garg crew that showed up at the Ex Bd meeting an effusive greeting while she ignored the vet teachers who have been fighting Garg. We saw no sign of Silva meeting after meeting when parents en masse showed up. I never saw Silva at one of the hearings for Marilyn.

Let's be clear -- all tenured teachers were under investigation by Garg starting in the fall of 2015 -- no red flag at the UFT? They came to MORE in frustration in Feb/March 2016 but after that they took control on their own --some of us came out to support them when we could. They came back to MORE for help in March 2017 after Marilyn was facing 3020a hearings- and we suggested they come to the Ex Bd. But before that there was no reaction at the UFT --- I know - they will claim behind the scenes -- but in fact with these flimsy charges against a CL who fought the principal, the UFT should have raised the riot act when she was removed and charged -- there are many teachers under investigation who remain teaching as long as children aren't involved.

Why did it take the UFT over a year to take note of this situation? Why does so much of the UFT hierarchy seem to be in bed with administrators?

The lesson is that we must shine the light on the cockroaches to flush out the UFT leadership into taking some action, even if weak.

Friday, May 12, 2017

CPE1 Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez CLEARED of ALL CHARGES - Estrella and Garg Should be Removed Immediately for Criminal Act

After a baseless and retaliatory investigation and termination hearing based on trumped up charges, Central Park East 1 teacher (and union chapter chair), Marilyn Martinez, was CLEARED OF ALL CHARGES! This is an extremely rare decision as only 4% of NYC teachers who go through these hearings are fully exonerated. But we need your help to tell the Mayor that the DOE needs to bring Marilyn back to her classroom immediately and that the campaign of harassment against teachers and parents must be stopped.... #Savecpe1 committee, http://www.savecpe1.org
Let's remember that Marilyn was suddenly removed from the classroom by the District 4 Elementary and middle school superintendent: Alexandra Estrella, (212) 348-2873. In an unprecedented move she was brought up on 3020a charges to fire her just a few weeks later which brought out an enormous parent response at her hearings. (And for those NYSUT lawyer bashers, she used one.)

How about that CSA call for the DOE to support yet another lying principal (YALP)? CSA Calls Abusive Principal Garg "an outstanding educator".)  Shame on the so-called union that supports attacks on other union members. The UFT should cut all relations and cooperation with these slugs.

Just think of it -- little kids, some with special needs, suddenly were cut off from the teacher who had given them so much support so early in their school lives -- one of the very best and dedicated teachers you can find -- the kind of teacher who writes 10 page individual analysis and reports for each child in addition to creating a vibrant classroom experience. I consider this a criminal act --- administrative and educational malpractice at the very least.

Also think of those 3 untenured teachers and 4 parents who showed up at the UFT Ex Bd meeting the other night to support Garg and in essence to endorse Garg's actions -- and was greeted with warmth and showered with love by UFT District Rep Servia Silva for engaging in what some termed the act of scabs who made statements attacking their fellow teachers. (From the first time we met with CPE1 teachers 15 months ago they were telling us she was pro-Garg and Estella.) See Arthur's Executive Board Takeaway.

The main complaint of these teachers who were hired by Garg against the vets were that they wouldn't meet with them other than offsite because Marilyn could not be in the school due to the charges. Now there's the union spirit of support. No wonder Garg hired them. 

Apparently Garg, who had lied about having anything to do with Marilyn's removal, was in it up to her ears, secretly taping a parent. Can anyone maintain trust in keeping her as principal? The UFT must call for Garg's immediate removal (and Estella with her) and Marilyn's immediate reinstatement to the classroom as of this Monday.

In the meantime, would we be surprised to see them try to file additional charges against Marilyn to keep her out of the school since her return would throw a serious monkey wrench into the Farina plan to undermine the school?

Parents are asking people to blitz de Blasio with calls today calling for Marilyn's immediate return.

We don't know how quickly she will be reinstated or if they will try to mess with it; at our SLT meeting today, Monika refused to say that she would support her return and looked really angry at idea of her returning.

So we want to get out ahead of it and build public political pressure for her immediate return and an end to the harassment; we're doing another call-in action tomorrow am around it. I know it's really short notice but anything you can do to get the word out would be much appreciated - it made a big difference last week.